The constant hubbub echoed in the Citadel, noise coming from beyond the door.
Arthur looked down on his shaking hands - the hands of the newly elected Elder of the East Coast Brotherhood of Steel.
The sensation of his swollen heart hurt his chest, his mind fighting against itself to fully understand what had happened and how it would permanently change his life.
Nearly five years had passed since the Lyons died, leaving the Brotherhood without a proper command structure and with a child heir too young to take over a role engraved in his last name.
Too young, Arthur thought to himself. Wasn’t he still too young for such responsibilities? His sixteen years seemed pointless compared to the dynasty instituted by Roger Maxson more than two centuries ago.
Yet, the Brotherhood had put its faith and hopes on him – a teenager.
Slowly raising his hands to brush his hair, Arthur felt the dampness coming from the heavy rain. The crashing drops resonated on the metal roof, creating an out of tune melody with the wind.
Arthur spun around himself, his blue eyes inspecting the room that was now his. He had run inside when the rain started to fall on his way back to the Citadel, after spending the day touring the various squads to properly present himself as the new Elder and give his first orders.
It had felt weird, hearing his own voice giving the instructions to soldiers way older and more experienced than him in the matter of combat.
Arthur’s feat of arms was, however, renowned among the ranks of the Brotherhood and had heavily weighed in the decision to appoint him as Elder. Yet, he still felt like he wasn’t ready for such responsibilities.
A knock on the door forced him back to Earth.
Arthur recollected himself, inhaling slowly to fill his lungs with more courage than actual air. Behind the door stood Knight Danse.
For years, Arthur had looked up to him, training with him to be just as good as a fighter – but from now on, Arthur was Danse’s commanding officer.
“Knight Danse, how may I help you?”
“I wanted to properly congratulate you, Arth-” Danse broke off, his body straightening up a bit more as he cleared his throat. “Elder Maxson.”
The words felt eerie in Arthur’s mind, as if it finally hit him for the first time since his appointment – he had been called Elder all day long, the title sounding almost funny.
Danse’s respect felt different.
Pride gradually spread in Arthur’s chest with a soothing effect, urging his mouth to draw his lips into a smile. Elder Maxson, he really could get used to that now that he thought about it. He liked the tune of it.
Yet, his fears still shone brightly in his mind. What if soldiers didn’t trust him or his decisions? What if he was disregarded because of his age? Wasn’t his name a burden too heavy to carry?
It was a wave of hurtful questions that flooded his brain and sanded the smile off his face.
Slowly lowering his eyes to the ground, Arthur sighed. “What if I’m not good enough?” The words came out of his mouth when he only wanted to think of them.
“Sir, this is what you were destined to be.” Danse’s voice was soft, almost as if he could fully understand what was going on in Arthur’s mind. “This is not much of a big change, when you think about it.”
Arthur’s eyes wandered to the window, gazing from above to the training taking place. He was now in charge of those soldiers. He was the one who would give them orders and assignments, send them on missions he found fit.
It was overwhelming.
“How so?” Arthur asked as he focused on Danse again.
“You have what it takes to be a good leader. You broke peace with the Outcasts last year when no one had succeeded in such an enterprise.” A smile appeared on Danse’s face – a smile reflecting what Arthur thought to be pride. “This was outstanding, sir.”
“What if I was just lucky? I tend to be lucky.”
“There is no luck in the way your words affect us.”
There was none in the way Danse’s words affected Arthur either, making his heart skipping a beat. Maybe he was cut for this, after all.
The West Coast Elders had spent five years figuring who would take over the East Coast chapter. Five whole years and in the end, they had chosen him, from all other possibilities.
Maybe Arthur Maxson was indeed the right choice, beyond his lineage – he really wanted to believe that. To believe in himself.
“Danse, please be honest. Do you think the Brotherhood will follow me? Will it be loyal to me?” Arthur fought against his own voice to not let it tremble. From now on, all the words coming from his mouth would be assured and resonating in confidence.
Danse nodded slowly almost immediately, like he didn’t even need to think about it. “The Brotherhood would worship you.”
The expression didn’t bring any reassurance to Arthur’s mind – on the contrary, it revolted him. Being mistaken with a god wasn’t a privilege but an offense to his eyes.
An offense to him, to his actions and leadership.
“I don’t want to be worshipped.” Arthur said with a confident tone. “I want to be respected because of what I do, not who I am.”
Arthur was just a man. A very young man holding the future of the Brotherhood of Steel in his unassured hands. My soul was forged from eternal steel, his mind echoed again.
Except it wasn’t. He was just flesh and blood.
“And you will.” Danse drew closer to him, resting his hand on Arthur’s shoulder - a gesture mixing itself between his usual brotherly behavior and that new attitude Danse had to get used to with his now commanding officer.
Danse was everything Arthur wanted to be. An excellent fighter, respected and admired by his peers. Someone with a heart of gold, when sometimes Arthur didn’t even feel his own beating.
Danse was the best soldier among the ranks and his title was below his true worth – something Arthur could change, he realized.
With all those responsibilities and duties came a power to make and unmake the hierarchy as he saw fit.
Danse’s status didn’t fit Arthur’s view of his own chapter of the Brotherhood. His first big decision as an Elder was clear in his mind.
“I’m granting you the rank of Paladin, Danse. You deserve it more than anyone else.”
Danse stiffened, his expression turning from a deep seriousness to a surprise he couldn't hide. He let go of his grip on Arthur’s shoulder, his hand staying mid-air.
“Arth- Elder Maxson, it is beyond words.” Danse’s voice stumbled. His eyes shone under the faint light of the room. “It would be a great honor for me to serve you as a Paladin, sir.”
Danse stood at attention, linking his hands behind his back. Even if Arthur was growing up and changing at an alarming rate, Danse would still be taller than him.
Arthur didn’t care much about all of that, he knew where his strengths were.
As he stretched out his hand towards Danse, Arthur felt his chest heating up with a deep feeling of contentment.
He could get used to that, the pure reaction of happiness and pride in the soldiers who would be granted what they truly deserved. Arthur knew Danse was just the first of a long list of changes he’d bring to the Brotherhood – despite his utmost respect to Owyn Lyons’ memory, Arthur needed to bring his own contribution.
He couldn’t be failing at this. A Maxson couldn’t fail.
“You’re the best element in the Brotherhood, Paladin.” Arthur said with an assured ton as he shook Danse’s hand. “I want you to be a part of this new chapter as a leader. I believe you have what it takes to be an example to our recruits.”
“I’m very grateful to you and your trust.”
Danse’s smile was enough for Arthur to picture himself leading those soldiers he admired so much.
This is what he wanted to be, to do for the rest of his life. To make the Brotherhood of Steel a place where people would feel safe and heard, accepted and protected. A faction where the leadership was available and they were not ghosts secluded in a bunker – Arthur would not let his chapter become what was left of the West Coast Brotherhood.
Letting go of Danse’s hand, Arthur stepped back, walking over the US map hanging on the wall. His fingers brushed the paper, evaluating the surroundings of the Capital Wasteland.
Arthur felt like he could take over the world if he felt like it – the only thing he needed was to accept his capacity to be Elder.
The Brotherhood’s influence on the Capital Wasteland weighed in his heart. Everything the Lyons had built here was an example for any leader with the desire to make the world a better place for mankind.
“You’re already planning our future.” Danse stepped next to Arthur, joining his gaze on the map.
“What’s your opinion on our enterprise to explore the Commonwealth?” A place where the War’s wrath still heavily lingered two centuries later - its inhabitants had no form of an army or an armed group powerful enough to ensure their protection from the dangers of the Wasteland.
An open field for Arthur’s ideas of a new world.
“It’s what’s best for the Brotherhood, in my own opinion. We need to expend and bring a new hope to the people there.”
Arthur nodded to Danse’s words as his index fingers landed on Boston. He had thought about it when the first talks about his appointment came. He didn’t actually want to believe it was possible for him to be Elder, yet he was plotting all sorts of scenarios regarding the Brotherhood’s expansion.
The first recon squad had brought promising information about the region – and reports of the possible origin for the synths threat.
“Our next step is here.” Arthur whispered, like the words would immediately launch the enterprise by themselves. Turning his head to Danse, Arthur felt himself finding a confidence he was too scared to embrace. “Will you accompany me to talk with Paladin Brandis? I think it’s time we send another squad to the Commonwealth.”
Danse's features were serious as he nodded. “Of course, sir.”
“Good, let’s go.” Arthur said, already walking to the door.
His first initiatives were getting under way. His own ideas.
Him, still a teenager and barely a man.
Him, Elder of the Brotherhood of Steel.